Michael Chabon Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Michael Chabon’s literary career began in 1988 with the publication of his first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh. He also published travel sketches in magazines such as Vogue, as well as essays in The New Yorker and Civilization. In 1995, his second novel, Wonder Boys, was published, followed by another in 2000, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

When Michael Chabon’s adviser in the master’s of fine arts program at the University of California at Irvine submitted The Mysteries of Pittsburgh to an agency in 1987, the novel created such a sensation that the right to publish was sold at auction. The publisher William Morrow paid a record $155,000 for publication rights. Foreign publishers were eager to obtain rights, and by the time the novel appeared, Chabon was already at work under contract on a film adaptation. He wrote other screenplays, which were sold but not produced, and the film rights to Wonder Boys (1995) were purchased after that novel’s release. In 1987, his short stories began to appear in Mademoiselle and The New Yorker, which subsequently bought most of the stories that appear in A Model World, and Other Stories.

Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Although known primarily as a novelist, Michael Chabon (SHAY-bahn) has also distinguished himself as a writer of short fiction, publishing the collections A Model World, and Other Stories (1991) and Werewolves in Their Youth (1999). His second book, A Model World, helped cement Chabon’s emerging reputation as a writer of emotional depth and lyrical intensity. His novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay inspired a comic-book series, published by Dark Horse Comics, based on the novel’s comic-book superhero character the Escapist; Chabon has contributed but is not a primary writer for the series. He has published articles and essays in a variety of magazines such as Esquire, The New Yorker, and The Paris Review. He served as the editor for the anthology McSweeney’s Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales (2003) and McSweeney’s Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Stories (2004). He has worked on screenplays for a number of films, most notably Spider-Man 2 (2004). A collection of Chabon’s essays (largely made up of his magazine publications) titled Maps and Legends: Essays on Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands was published in 2008.


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

After having initially made a splash as a novelist, Michael Chabon was also lauded for his collections of short fiction; the story “Son of the Wolfman” won an O. Henry Award in 1999. Chabon’s star climbed higher with the 2000 film adaptation of Wonder Boys and reached even greater heights when The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay won the Pulitzer Prize in 2000 and was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award as well as short-listed for the PEN/Faulkner Award. Chabon’s subsequent foray into adolescent fantasy, Summerland, won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature in 2003. His further work in genre fiction has been rewarded as well; a brief version of his novel The Final Solution won the 2003 Aga Khan Prize for fiction for best work published in The Paris Review that year. Furthermore, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union won the Edgar Award for best mystery novel, the Nebula Award for best science-fiction novel, and the Locus Award for best science-fiction novel and was nominated for a Hugo Award for best science-fiction novel as well as the Sidewise Award for Alternate History. His historical swashbuckling novel Gentlemen of the Road was first serialized in The New York Times Magazine.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Benedict, Elizabeth. “Sorrow at the Mall.” Review of A Model World and Other Stories, by Michael Chabon. The New York Times Book Review, May 26, 1991, 7. In this review of Chabon’s first short-story collection, Benedict praises the author’s narrative skills and descriptive powers. For Benedict, Chabon in the second half of the collection seems to be “delving below the surface of his fluent, astonishingly vivid prose and reaching deeper into his characters.”

Binelli, Mark. “The Amazing Story of the Comic Book Nerd Who Won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.” Rolling Stone, September 27, 2001. Provides an overview of Chabon’s life and career as well as brief discussion of each of his novels.

Cahill, Bryon. “Michael Chabon: A Writer with Many Faces.” Writing! 27, no. 6 (April/May, 2005): 16-20. Presents a detailed examination of Chabon’s developing interests and the inspirations behind many of his works.

Chabon, Michael. “On The Mysteries of Pittsburgh.” The New York Review of Books, June 9, 2005. Brief history by the author explains the genesis of his first novel and some of the less overt autobiographical elements in the work.

Chabon, Michael. “Secret Skin: Superheroes, Escapism, Realism.” The New Yorker, March 10, 2008....

(The entire section is 481 words.)